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UK consortium to boost health care with medical drones
by Paul Hill
A UK-based consortium made up of Skyfarer, O2, Cranfield University, Phoenix Wings, and Altitude Angel is attempting to improve health care by creating a drone network that can speed up patient response and sample return times as well as make blood deliveries needed for transfusions.
In the future, the consortium hopes to create a national infrastructure that will enable same-day delivery with autonomous drones but for the time being, it will be focusing on the Midlands area of England which include cities such as Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester, and Wolverhampton.
In terms of its progress so far, the consortium has secured operational authorisation for extended visual line of sight operations (EVLOS) with an overweight unmanned aircraft system (UAS) from the Civil Aviation Authority. This will allow the group to do short-range flight tests which are due to commence after Easter.
In the next stage of the project, the consortium is going to carry out a study that will find out the best location for a potential drone corridor where UAVs will be able to deliver medical supplies without the need for a human driver. In the summer, the consortium will also perform delivery trials to see how the hardware performs.
If the consortium can prove UAVs are an effective method for medical supply deliveries it will improve the supply of blood needed for transfusions and it could also reduce the number of heavy-good vehicles on the roads. HGVs currently make up 17% of the UK’s domestic transport emissions so taking some of these off the roads will be beneficial.
Each of the members of the consortium is bringing unique expertise and resources. O2 will work with Ofcom to develop SIM cards for use in drones making medical deliveries to ensure they fly safely, Cranfield University will help stage the trials with its airport, Altitude Angel has the technology to let the consortium’s drones share airspace with planes safely and securely, Phoenix Wings will be providing a drone capable of carrying blood, and Skyfarer will co-ordinate. O2 said that Innovate UK will provide the funding for the project.
By Abhay V
Google working to let health apps integrate with Assistant for easier health tracking
by Abhay Venkatesh
A recent teardown of the beta version of the Google app on Android has revealed strings that suggest that Google might be working to integrate health apps with the Assistant. The company aims to let users easily access tracked sleep data and other health-related information right from the assistant through voice commands.
The term “sleep_account_linking” and corresponding descriptions suggest that users will be able to choose to integrate their health service accounts to the Assistant and receive responses about sleep quality and other such queries on the app and on Assistant-enabled speakers that have personal results turned on. Health services can include apps like Fitbit that collates data from fitness trackers.
Additionally, the content found in the teardown also suggests that the Assistant will be able to automatically provide data and health suggestions for those that have “proactive health and fitness results”. The description of the feature also suggests that users’ audio queries will be deleted after the request is completed. However, text from the query might be used to “troubleshoot, develop, and improve Assistant services”. Those that want to stop receiving any of this information or suggestions can unlink their services from settings.
The addition of this feature will negate the need for users to navigate to specific health apps and manually check the desired metrics, proving to be useful for those that rely on such apps to keep a track of sleep patterns or other fitness-related goals. It will not be surprising to see Google-owned Fitbit be one of the first providers to integrate with the Assistant if the feature does make it to the app.
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft extends cloud-based health alliance with Allscripts
by Hamza Jawad
Last month, Microsoft unveiled a five-year deal with John Hopkins Medicine, centered around Azure. A few weeks before that, the tech giant launched Cloud for Healthcare, its first industry-specific cloud offering. Now, in a further move combining the power of cloud with the healthcare industry, Microsoft has announced a five-year extension to its strategic alliance with Allscripts.
The partnership, which undertakes the development of cloud-based health IT solutions, will now support Allscripts' cloud-based Sunrise electronic health record as well. Sunrise is described as an "integrated EHR that connects all aspects of care, including acute, ambulatory, surgical, pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services including an integrated revenue cycle and patient administration system". Microsoft is now the cloud provider for the aforementioned solution.
Paul Black, Allscripts CEO, commented on the significance of this partnership under the global pandemic situation, noting:
Microsoft will not only be providing Allscripts the ability to utilize the Azure platform, but more of its services such as Teams and Power BI as well as part of this renewed alliance.
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Samsung partners with fitness brands to bring apps to its TVs
by Paul Hill
Samsung has announced that its smart TVs will begin to host wellness apps after it formed partnerships with a selection of brands including barre3, Calm, Echelon, Fitplan, Jillian Michaels Fitness, and obé Fitness. While the services will become part of Samsung Health later in the year, they’ve been made available now to help people that are stuck at home due to COVID-19.
Commenting on the news, Salek Brodsky, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Business Development for Samsung Electronics, said:
The apps vary by availability, here’s the list:
barre3 is available on 2018 and 2019 Samsung smart TVs in the U.S. and Canada. Fitplan is available on 2019 models in the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. Echelon FitPass is available on TVs from 2018 and 2019 in the U.S., Canada, UK, and Australia. Jillian Michaels Fitness is available on 2018 and 2019 TVs in the U.S., Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. obé is available on 2018 and 2019 models in the U.S. and Canada. Calm is available on 2019 TVs in the U.S., Canada, UK, Korea, Australia, France, Germany, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Brazil, Portugal, UAE, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Morocco. All of the apps will be part of Samsung Health on 2020 models but availability is based on region. The apps that are being introduced focus on both body and mind so they should be quite helpful when it comes to people being shut-in their homes for extended periods.